HICKORY, N.C., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- About 1,500 people gathered in Hickory, N.C., to honor Zahra Baker on what would have been her 11th birthday Tuesday.
Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins, who has led the investigation into Zahra's disappearance and now into her presumed killing, was one of the speakers, the Hickory Daily Record reported.
The vigil was sponsored by the Children's Protection Council.
Zahra, who had survived two bouts of cancer, moved from Australia with her father Adam Baker to join Elisa Baker, a woman he met online. She vanished Oct. 9.
Adkins did not say much about the investigation, talking instead of Zahra's courage.
"Thirty-nine days ago, most of us did not know Zahra Baker, but over a month we have all fallen in love with her and become better people because of her," he said. "She did not want pity from anyone, a family member told me. She wanted to be like any other child. Nothing would slow her down."
Zahra's stepmother has been charged with obstruction of justice. In a bid to reduce her bail, Baker said Monday in a court filing that she told police where to find the pieces of Zahra's body, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Adam Baker was arrested Oct. 25 and later released on bond for several charges, including writing worthless checks and assault with a deadly weapon.